Zoo saves monkeys from euthanasia 

Twenty monkeys who spent their lives undergoing behavioral testing at Stanford University are about to learn what normal monkey life is at the San Francisco Zoo.

The squirrel monkeys are among a group of 59 that needed homes after Stanford lost grant money and asked the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits zoos for their commitment to wildlife, to help find them homes.

Now, the 3- to 5-pound monkeys are nearing the end of their mandatory quarantine before they can join the other animals at the zoo.

"They were in a research facility where they do not allow anything that can’t be sterilized and didn’t have any natural elements," -primates curator Corinne MacDonald said. "We’re slowly introducing them to natural things. They’re loving it."

The entire group has been spread out among at least six other zoos.

"Part of it is capacity. We want to make sure we have appropriate habitats and natural social groupings," zoo association spokesman Steve Feldman said.

San Francisco Zoo officials and the association would not disclose details about the monkeys’ testing or their living situation at the campus, and college officials declined to comment.

However, zoo officials did say it was a matter of life or death for the monkeys, which are most commonly found in the Amazon Basin. They were on the brink of euthanasia because the research facility lost its funds.

Feldman said it took more than a year to coordinate.

When MacDonald feels they are ready to revel in trees and dirt, the monkeys will temporarily live in the Primate Discovery Center.

In the meantime, the zoo will use a $250,000 donation specifically for the monkeys to extend an outdoor exhibit at the new South American Tropical Rainforest Aviary that’s still under construction.

"It’s actually unprecedented for this kind of a transfer," MacDonald said.

If they’re able, the monkeys may eventually coexist at the aviary with the world’s largest rodents, capybaras.



Squirrel monkeys


20: Number transferred to S.F. Zoo

15-20: Estimate of ages

3-5: Average weight, pounds

Late 20s: Life expectancy in captivity

15: Estimate of primate species at zoo

$250,000: Money donated for exhibit

Food: Nuts, fruits, sometimes small animals

Source: San Francisco Zoo

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